Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ex-Foster Child Now $1 Million Scholar

AOL News

Derrius Quarles cuts a sleek figure on the Morehouse College campus in Atlanta, GA. The 19-year-old freshman favors tailored suits, reported the
Chicago Tribune, and hands out business cards emblazoned with the words "Student/Entrepreneur/Leader." But his route to higher education has been a rocky one, said the paper. His father was stabbed to death when Quarles was four, while his mother struggled with drug addiction.
He spent the rest of his childhood with relatives or in foster homes, the Tribune reported. At times he and his older brother would steal bread and snacks from nearby convenience stores. And by the time he turned 17, Quarles was living on his own. Yet he was determined to pull himself up by his own bootstraps, the Tribune said. "I've had people tell me that I ain't never gonna be s---," he told the paper. "That's not a scratch, that cuts deep. After so many people put me down, I said, 'I'm gonna show you.'" To that end, Quarles pushed himself to the limit when he enrolled in Chicago's Kenwood Academy High School. Not only was he earning straight A's by his junior year -- he also scoured the Web for information about scholarships.

His efforts paid major dividends, said the Tribune. Quarles won more than $1 million in scholarship offers, a rare feat accomplished by only about a dozen students nationwide each year. Along with his full ride at Morehouse, Quarles won a Gates Millennium Scholarship worth $160,000 and two others worth $20,000 each. As for his ambitions, Quarles is just getting started, reported the paper. He hopes to attend medical school, set up a tutoring program for low-income students in Chicago, get involved in public-health policy, and eventually become U.S. surgeon general. "I have no time to play around," he told the Tribune. He added: "I want to make a difference. I want to show people that I can be all those things people said I could never be."
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